Dairy sheep symposium at Cornell in November

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ITHACA, N.Y. – The eighth Great Lakes Dairy Sheep Symposium will be held on the Cornell University campus, Nov. 7-9.

The charter meeting of the Dairy Sheep Association of North America will be held concurrently.

Sheep milk for cheese. As demand for sheep milk and cheeses increases, dairy sheep breeds are becoming better established in North America and are improving rural economies.

“The Great Lakes Dairy Sheep Symposium is the unique annual event for transmitting information among dairy-sheep farmers and sheep-cheese makers,” said Michael Thonney, Cornell professor of animal science.

The United States imports about 38,000 tons of sheep-milk cheese annually, representing half of the world trade. This amount has more than doubled in the past 15 years, said Thonney.

Less than 100 tons of sheep-milk cheese are produced in the United States each year, and he believes there is a large potential market for this product.

Find out more. On the morning of Nov. 7, there will be a presymposium introduction to dairy-sheep farming.

The charter meeting of Dairy Sheep Association of North America will begin late in the afternoon with the election of officers. The new organization is devoted to educating, supporting and encouraging new and established sheep-milk dairies, farmstead and small sheep-milk cheese makers.

The opening session of the symposium will start with Antonello Canas of Italy, speaking on nutritional strategies to improve lactation persistency in dairy ewes. Other presentations will include information on nutritional strategies, flock health, genetics and economics.

Sheep cheeses provided by some of the symposium participants will be sampled at session breaks and dinners. Additional sessions will focus on milk quality and cheese evaluation.

Nathan Rudgers, commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, will speak on the future of state specialty agriculture after the banquet on Friday evening.

Farm tour. New York state is home to Old Chatham Sheepherding, the largest sheep dairy in the United States. Several smaller sheep dairies are located in the state, and two of these will be featured on the symposium tour Saturday, Nov. 9.

The registration fee for the three-day symposium is $100, with a reduction to $75 for those joining the association ($50 annual dues for charter membership). Additional family or farm members will pay a reduced registration fee of $60.

Registration includes lunches on Thursday and Saturday, a lamb barbecue on Thursday evening, the cost of transportation for the Saturday tour and refreshments during the breaks. The Friday banquet is $25 per person.

Complete information about the symposium, including a brochure and registration form, is available at the Cornell Dairy Sheep Web site, www.sheep.cornell.edu/sheep/dairysheep/, or by contacting Mike Thonney, 114 Morrison Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4801.

For more information call 607-255-2851.

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